*All ADP data obtained from MyFantasyLeague 12 team start up drafts.
Welcome to my newest article series for Fanium, where I’ll be highlighting three players to avoid in dynasty start up drafts. My rationale for selecting these players revolves largely around injury and the cost it takes to acquire these players. I’m not saying that these players won’t produce or shouldn’t be owned, but their cost may not return long term value because of injury. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I will be putting out additional articles highlighting the running back, wide receiver, and tight end positions. Let’s start with the most important position in football – the quarterback.
1. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers; ADP: AB9; 6th round
Cam has been a force in fantasy, and that probably won’t change in the short term, but from a dynasty perspective, he is likely going to start to reach a decline in performance when it comes to throwing the ball. This past season, Newton really, really struggled to get the ball down the field with any velocity.
Further examination revealed a cartilage injury in the throwing shoulder, which required surgery to clean up the joint via a scope. Structurally, nothing was repaired, so there is virtually no concern that he’s ready to go in Week 1. However, now that we know he has a cartilage injury, Cam has arthritis in the throwing shoulder. Combine this with the fact that he has a rotator cuff repair surgery in 2017, and it’s possible that we’ve see the best of Cam in the NFL.
I think he’ll be fine for fantasy for the next couple of years, but he won’t be a guy playing into his late 30s. Finally, Cam’s body likely won’t be able to hold up to the beating he’s taken so far in his time in the NFL. According to ESPN, Newton has taken the most hits at the quarterback position since he entered the league in 2011. If his rushing attempts continue, his days could be numbered.
2. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens; ADP: QB16, 8th round
Jackson doesn’t have a notable injury history, so he’s got the green light from me on that front. However, his play style does not bode well for his long term health, making him more of a short term asset rather than a long term dynasty asset.
In 16 games for the Ravens last year, Lamar Jackson ran the ball 147 times. That number may not seem like a lot, and that’s because that number is stretched out across 16 games, and Jackson only started in 7 regular season games. In the 7 games Jackson started during the regular season, he averaged 17 rush attempts per game. 17!! On average, that’s more rush attempts per game than James Conner, Alvin Kamara, and Christian McCaffrey. Jackson’s rushing is fantastic for fantasy football, but his playing style predisposes him to injury.
It’s not rocket science – if you run the ball more, you get hit more, and you get more injuries. This is why the shelf life is so short for running backs. He needs to learn to take fewer hits, get out of bounds, and get down when a defender approaches him if he hopes to stick around this league for years to come.
3. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans; ADP: QB27; 12th round
I’ll preface this with saying that I won’t fault anyone who is a Mariota believer who wants to draft him at his low ADP. You could even argue that he’s a value at this point, so I don’t hate the idea of drafting him as your QB3. However, if you’re drafting him or trading for him as a QB2 in super flex leagues, buyer beware.
The ulnar nerve issue that Mariota dealt with in 2018 is well documented, but the list continues from there. Side note – hats off to Mariota for only missing 3 games despite dealign with all of these injuries: sprained AC joint, multiple neck stingers, torn plantar fascia, strained oblique, fractured rib, and a fractured vertebrae. The guy was absolutely beat up and destroyed by injury throughout all of 2018, so his play on the field should be viewed with all of this in mind. Regardless, when you stack up all of these injuries as well as the strained hamstring from 2017, you have to question Mariota’s ability to stay healthy.
The good news – all of these injuries should heal heading into this season. The bad news – the nerve issue will increase sensitivity to nerve injuries in the future, and the team brought in Ryan Tannehill to back him up. It’s possible Mariota is on a short leash in 2018.